....to JusticeGhana Group

 Welcome to JusticeGhana

JusticeGhana is a Non-Governmental [and-not-for- profit] Organization (NGO) with a strong belief in Justice, Security and Progress....” More Details

Tony Aidoo and the Ghanaian Judiciary - Contempt of Court v. Public Interest

Contempt of Court v. Public Interest

In the Kingdom of Great Britain in which the Republic of Ghana owes much of its jurisprudence, the concept of contempt was established at common law as “an act or omission calculated to interfere with the administration of justice”. The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS- Guide to Contempt of Court) states at its website that the common law is still the starting point for determining what constitutes contempt, and case law has established the powers of courts to deal with contempt. Section 41 of the Criminal Justice Act 1925 creates contempt to take any photograph, make or attempt to make any portrait or sketch of a justice or a witness in, or a party to, any proceedings before the court, either in the courtroom or its precincts. So on the face of justice and fairness, it is incumbent on the court to promptly evaluate that calculated bid- direct/indirect, to perverse or interfere with the course of justice.

Per Lord Reid in a newspaper contempt case of A-G v. Times Newspapers Ltd. [1974] AC 273, 294 H.L, “The law on this subject [contempt of court] is and must be founded entirely on public policy. It is not there to protect the private rights of parties to a litigation or prosecution. It is there to prevent interference with the administration of justice and it should in my judgment be limited to what is reasonably necessary for that purpose. Public policy generally requires a balancing of interests which may conflict. Freedom of speech should not be limited to any greater extent than is necessary, but it cannot be allowed where there would be real prejudice to the administration of justice.”

Madam Justice Shameem at the Attorney-General’s Conference (December 2004), shed light on the Fiji Judiciary in a celebrated contempt case of Syed Muktar Shah v. Elizabeth Rice, where an Attorney-General’s Officer, in his personal (not his professional) capacity, persuaded a 15-year-old girl rape victim, to change her evidence in the case against the accused- who was her father. The Fiji Times broke loose in search of the truth about how a file listed before Dr. Ilangasinghe, was mysteriously, transferred to Shah, some minutes before hearing:

“The most common form of criminal contempt is the common law jurisdiction of scandalising the court. Fiji has a colourful, not always respectable history of prosecutions for scandalising the court. I say, not always respectable, because past cases show us how the contempt powers of a court can sometimes be used to stifle legitimate submissions by counsel, and forthright and critical comments on judicial conduct, by the media.”

The Plea

In conclusion, we mention in passing that the law of contempt of court, illustrate above, has, as its sole purpose- the maintenance of the authority and the dignity of the courts. But the integrity of its invocation and application ought to serve the public’s right and interest to know.

Researched and Compiled By Asante Fordjour for The OmanbaPa Research Group




 1000 Characters left

Antispam Refresh image Case sensitive

JusticeGhana Group *All Rights Reserved © 2007-2013*Privacy Policy